General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891)

Object Number: 
Overall: 14 3/4 x 12 x 9 1/2 in. ( 37.5 x 30.5 x 24.1 cm )
Signature and date: "S-98" [old N-YHS cat #]
Death mask.
Gallery Label: 
Sherman, who was born and raised in Ohio, graduated sixth in his class from the Military Academy at West Point in 1840. After uneventful tours of duty in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia, he resigned his commission and turned, unsuccessfully, to banking and the law. Sherman rejoined the army at the outbreak of the Civil War and saw action at Shiloh under General U.S. Grant, whom he came to admire greatly. He was promoted to brigadier general and succeeded Grant in command of the Army of the Tennessee in 1863. When Grant assumed command of all Union armies, Sherman was placed in charge of the entire southwestern area. His "March to the Sea" led from Chattanooga through Atlanta to Savannah with its important harbor and stores of supplies, which he captured in December 1864. Sherman was considered one of the most brilliant tacticians of the Union generals. In 1869 Sherman became general commanding the army and remained in that capacity for fourteen years. His Memoirs were published in 1875. In a letter to P. Tecmuseh Sherman from Charles C. Beaman, a lawyer, dated February 16, 1891 (two days after General Sherman's death), some of the details relating to the death mask are given: "I have seen Mr. St. Gaudens and he will be at the house at half-past ten this evening. In talking it over, we thought it well to also ask the sculptor Mr. French to be present. . . . I feel very certain that you will all be glad to have the cast made, and that it will be of the greatest use and value hereafter." Augustus Saint-Gaudens was unable to make the mask for some reason, so Daniel Chester French made it. In 1888 Saint-Gaudens had modeled a bust of Sherman, his ideal of the American soldier, working from eighteen sittings with the general in New York; from 1892 to 1903 he worked on the equestrian statue of the general located in Central Park. French never did anything further with the likeness of Sherman and the death mask remained in the possession of the subject's son until he gave it to the Society.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Mr. Philemon Tecumseh Sherman
Philemon Tecumseh Sherman, son of subject
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group